Preparing your Team to Return from Furlough Leave

Imagine being out of the office and not working for four months because of a health issue or a sabbatical....

Andy Bristow
Andy Bristow
6 min read Reading Time
27 July 2020 Date Created

Imagine being out of the office and not working for four months because of a health issue or a sabbatical. It would take time and effort for you to get back into the normal routine of work.

Now, because of coronavirus, many employees have been placed on the UK Government’s furlough scheme and have not been working for several weeks and months. Making adjustments to help welcome a single employee back into the workplace after a long break is one thing, but when it’s perhaps your entire workforce, there are a lot of things to consider.

We are living in the “new normal” and people’s concerns and priorities may have changed dramatically. How can you as an employer or manager help your teams return to their IT jobs from furlough? Now’s the time to think creatively about better ways of working and how you can help your staff feel safe, comfortable and motivated.

How Is The Furlough Scheme Changing From July 2020?

Since July this year, the government will pay partial grants through the furlough scheme which has been extended to October 2020. This means that employers have a few options for planning a return to the workplace. For IT jobs, you may decide to continue to furlough staff at the new rates. Or, it may be time to recall some or all of the workforce. This could be on reduced hours, or through a phased return.

The scheme requires that employers agree new working arrangements in writing and you may be asked to give more details to your staff about your decisions about how they have been recalled. Keeping your criteria fair and free from discrimination is particularly important.

When it comes to welcoming employees back to the workplace, there will be various changes that it will be your responsibility as the employer to uphold. The government has published advice on how to keep up with social distancing guidelines and there will be spot checks carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, so be prepared.

Think about what changes you’ll need to make that are specific to your business and day-to-day operations. How will you conduct meetings, how can staff responsibly use any communal areas, and what hygiene measures or PPE might you need to provide?

How To Prepare Your Team For Returning to Work

Understand individual needs

It’s important to keep in regular contact with your team and let them know you understand their individual needs. Whether it’s feeling anxious or isolated, childcare concerns, a bereavement, caring for elderly or vulnerable relatives, or being vulnerable to coronavirus themselves, checking in with your employees will help them to feel more comfortable with planning to return to work.

Communicate regularly

Touch base with your staff on a regular basis to keep them updated on any redundancies, recruitment and plans for working from home or reopening your office. One-to-ones are also important so employees can raise individual concerns.

Be flexible

Depending on how you decide to roll out your employees’ return to work from furlough leave, the notice to be recalled to work may happen quickly. Some employees will be able to start immediately, but allow extra time for people to organise childcare or phase their return more gradually when possible.

Keep employees engaged

For IT jobs particularly, many employees will be able to work from home. Agree work from home policies in collaboration with your team, speak about working hours and regular meetings as well as what changes and new health and safety procedures staff can expect when they are back in the office environment.

How To Prepare Yourself For Work After Furlough Leave

Restart your routine

Whether you’ll be working from home or going back to the office, returning from furlough leave may be a shock to the system after months away from your regular work routines. Create a simple plan and schedule to help you get back up to speed again.

Understand what’s changed

Think about your work situation, what things will be different now? Your journey to work, your colleagues, how you get the job done and your own mental health, perhaps. Take time to understand these changes and ask for support when you need it.

Be a team player

Your management style might have to change if you’re working with a remote team for the first time. Big HR changes might have taken place, whether it’s redundancies or a new stage of recruitment. Keep your teams engaged and up to date with any developments in the business.

Talk to your manager

As you return to work from furlough leave, take time to discuss your own work arrangements with your manager. It’s just as important to cover any practical day-to-day concerns as it is to discuss the bigger picture strategy, like planning for recruiting new IT jobs.

A New Start – Are You Prepared for IT Recruitment?

There are many things that employers and managers in tech can do to support employees, be flexible, and communicate well to help everyone return from furlough leave safely and efficiently. Whether your business is looking to rebuild after redundancies and employees moving on or you’re a tech company that’s scaling and growing through these unprecedented times, here at Bristow Holland, we use our in-depth knowledge of the IT industry and the specialist markets within it, to get your IT jobs in front of the people you wouldn’t usually be able to reach.

Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.